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Al Jazeera to be imminently banned from broadcasting in Israel

Netanyahu has announced an immediate ban on the Middle Eastern news company from operating in Israel. The US expressed concern, as Al Jazeera’s journalists have been some of the only officials able to broadcast from the ground.

On Monday, Israeli parliamentarians voted in favour of a new law which allows government leaders to shut down any broadcaster it deems a ‘threat to national security’.

It seems that President Benjamin Netanyahu’s first line of attack is Al Jazeera.

The Qatari news broadcaster has extensively reported on flaring tensions between Palestinians and Israelis over the last few decades but has been especially critical of the ongoing destruction and humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Gaza Strip at the hands of Israeli forces since last October.

Announcing the ban on Twitter/X, Netanyahu called Al Jazeera a ‘terrorist channel’. This statement aligns with Israeli authorities’ long-running claims that the news company has links to Hamas – an accusation that it has strongly denied.

Despite the US seemingly backing Israel’s every move over the last six months by offering Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) weapons, intelligence, and millions of taxpayer dollars, the White House swiftly expressed concerns over the new law.

In a press conference, spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said:

In a press conference, spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said:

‘We believe in the freedom of the press. It is critical. It is critically important, and the United States supports the critically important work journalists do around the world, and that includes those who are reporting on the conflict in Gaza.’

Al Jazeera’s team has offered some of the most reliable and consistent coverage from inside Gaza, with no foreign journalists being allowed to enter the strip in recent months.

Though many Palestinian journalists have taken to social media to update the world about their plight, their reports are stunted by power and internet cuts. Many have also been wounded or killed since October 7th.

The IDF has been accused of specifically targeting journalists in its attacks. Of all journalists killed while on duty in 2023, 75 percent of them were reporting on the war in Gaza.

Jodie Ginsberg, the chief executive officer of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) expressed concerns over the new law. ‘It’s another example of the tightening of the free press and the stranglehold the Israeli government would like to exercise,’ said Ginsberg.

It is also not the first time that Israel has banned a new agency from broadcasting inside its borders. It blocked Al Mayadeen, a small Lebanese channel, from operating in the country last year.

Al Jazeera’s response to the ban on their service in Israel – and the accusations of being linked with Hamas – was released in a statement:

‘[Benjamin] Netanyahu could not find any justifications to offer the world for his ongoing attacks on Al Jazeera and press freedom except to present new lies and inflammatory slanders against the Network and the rights of its employees.’

It seems the move is just another way for Israel’s government to shield itself from scrutiny and prevent Israeli citizens from understanding what is happening just a few kilometres away.